Religion in the News

The fourth estate has finally admitted that it isn't perfect. America's media empire has acknowledged that there's one area of life it does a poor job of covering. That area is religion. And at least one network is doing something about it. ABC News recently hired Peggy Wehmeyer, an evangelical Christian, as network television's first full-time religion correspondent. This could be the beginning of a reformation in the way Americans get their news. Putting religion in the spotlight means a more honest—and more interesting—picture of our life together. Peggy Wehmeyer's own story reveals a lot about the shortcomings of the American media. She started out at a local ABC affiliate as a writer, where she approached the news director with a list of 30 great story ideas. All the stories dealt with religion, and all had the right elements for an engaging TV piece. As Wehmeyer told World magazine, "They had controversy, they were timely, and they affected people not only within the religious world but also outside it." The news director was baffled. He took the list to his regular staff and asked how they had missed such good stories. The reporters could only shrug, saying they "didn't know anything about this stuff." That's exactly what's wrong with network news today. Important and interesting events are missed by a secular media that simply doesn't have eyes to see. A Gallup poll found that 66 percent of Americans are members of churches and 42 percent attend services every week. Yet a study by the Media Research Center found that stories with a religious focus make up only 1 percent of news programming. As Wehmeyer puts it, "Do you have to fight to cover politics? Do you have to fight to cover education . . . or entertainment?" Then "why do we have to fight to get good coverage of a subject that is as controversial, colorful, and exciting as religion?" One answer is that the secular world regards religious believers as inherently biased. Fellow journalists sometimes ask Wehmeyer how she can cover religion if she is a committed Christian. She fires the question right back at them: "How can you cover politics and then go vote?" The truth is that all reporters have a point of view, whether religious or secular. And all reporters have to learn how to write objective news in spite of their prior commitments. Being religious is not any more biased than being antireligious. In fact, Christians who believe God made the world should be the most highly motivated of all to see that world as objectively as possible. While the modern world wallows in subjectivism, we believe in objective truth—and that gives us a rigorous standard lacking in the secular media. So let's applaud ABC for breaking new ground by hiring Peggy Wehmeyer. I for one have begun watching ABC news every night. The church also needs to realize that its job is to raise up more people like her—talented Christian writers who are committed to the truth. And who can bring a love of truth into the secular media.


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary